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Entebbe raid changed my life, says Netanyahu

By RODNEY MUHUMUZA and AP | July 5th 2016

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his country's raid on Uganda's Entebbe Airport 40 years ago, in which his brother was killed, "changed the course" of his life.

Speaking shortly after his arrival in Uganda, Netanyahu praised Israel's commando raid on the airport which freed Israeli hostages from a hijacked plane.

"International terrorism suffered a stinging defeat," he said of the rescue mission in July 1976.

The Entebbe rescue is a seminal event in Israeli history and is widely seen as one of the country's greatest military successes.

It was also a monumental event for Netanyahu, as the death of his brother, Yonatan, pushed him into the public limelight and on a path that would take him to the country's highest office.

An Israeli band played somber tunes at the airport on the shores of Lake Victoria to mark the anniversary of the rescue mission, during which three hostages were killed. A relative of one of the hostages lit a memorial flame as Netanyahu and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni stood in silence.

Netanyahu travelled to Uganda with soldiers and pilots who were part of the rescue team.

"This is a deeply moving day for me," he said. "Forty years ago, they landed in the dead of night in a country led by a brutal dictator who gave refuge to terrorists. Today, we landed in broad daylight in a friendly country led by a president who fights terrorists," he said.

"After many decades, I can say unequivocally Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel. Our people will benefit greatly from our growing partnership."

President Museveni said Uganda opposes the "indiscriminate use of violence" as well as bigotry. He said his government supports a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

"The two of you belong to that area," Museveni said, urging both sides to live "side by side in two states... in peace and with recognised borders."

Netanyahu later attended a summit of regional leaders on security. The one-day visit to Uganda marked the start of his tour of Africa during which he will also visit Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

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